An outstanding performance from Percy Duncan at the NSW Country Junior Rugby Union championships in Newcastle at the weekend impressed selectors so much he was named Backline player of the tournament, as well as gaining a guernsey for NSW Country under 15s.
The New England inside centre, who hails from Moree and is a student at The Armidale School, caught the selectors eye early on in the weekend, despite his team suffering some hard-fought defeats.
Duncan made a considerable impression in New England’s third game, scoring two tries in a tough and close encounter against Illawarra, who defeated the northern boys 17-15.
“They (the selectors) usually focus on the top teams, but I was told after the second game that a couple had been watching me play,” he said.
“It was great to be selected for Country but I was very surprised to have (been named) best backline player.”
Duncan said being part of this year’s Junior Gold Cup program, which TAS delivers for the Northern Inland region on behalf of the ARU, had helped.
“Training and playing really helped me get into shape for the New England side, it was a good opportunity.”
The last match for the play-off ended with New England and Central North in a 19-all draw, however TAS snared seventh place in the ladder as it scored the first try.
It was a much tougher hit out for the 14s, who were solidly defeated by bigger and fitter outfits in each of their games. They did however come away with the encouragement award to number 7 Charlie Radford from Rowena, another TAS student.
New England fielded teams in the 14s and 15s division after a hiatus of a few years. The zone will also run on 12s and 13s sides, which will play this weekend. New England Juniors president John Beynon said it was great to be back in the championships despite the tough competition.
“The New England fellas have been in the wilderness for a few years so to get a result like Percy’s selection in our first year back is very beneficial. It also shows that individuals with talent can attract the eye of the selectors, even if they are in the less dominant teams,” he said.
“We’re in a rebuilding phase, and it would be great to harness some business support for the future.”